Amazing grace of the Acropolis

The Parthenon, Taste for Travel
A
fter over 2,000 years the Acropolis is still the pride of Athens and a tourist magnet. Although I’ve visited half a dozen times, it never fails to cast its magic spell over me. Each visit is a different experience. The day I make my seventh pilgrimage it’s blowing an icy gale – the first cold snap of autumn – and clouds race across the sky, making the mighty Parthenon temple radiate a gloomy majesty.

The Parthenon was dedicated by the ancient Athenians to the goddess Athena Parthenos, the patron of their city.

The site of the Acropolis (Acropoli in Greek) has never been so easy to access. The Metro system, completed in time for the Athens Olympics in 2004, provides Athenians and visitors with a phenomenally efficient and rapid underground rail system to many parts of the city. The Acropolis Metro station is conveniently just a few metres from the Acropolis Museum and the entrance to the south side of the Acropolis.
Acropolis Metro station, Athens, Taste for Travel
Even the station itself is a marvel, with ancient remains of Athens and reproductions of the treasures of the Parthenon on display.

Acropolis Metro station, taste for Travel
Entrance to the Acropolis is 12 euros per adult. From the south side I walk up past the Herod Atticus theatre where an orchestra is rehearsing for an evening performance. The tinkling of a piano mingles with the scented pine trees whistling in the wind.
Herod Atticus Theatre, Acropolis, Taste for Travel
Countless millions of people have trod this way over the centuries making the marble and stone steps slippery smooth. Sturdy footwear is a must. I pause just before the gate to the Parthenon, and sit on a step, in a sheltered spot, where there’s no city noise at all. Just the faint notes of the piano, still, and a gentle rustling of pine branches. And then I climb up the stairs to the Parthenon, where the music is replaced by the chattering of tourists in a dozen languages.
On the Acropolis, Taste for TravelSouth side of the Parthenon
The Parthenon is undergoing constant restoration, with large cranes parked in the interior and on the south side. As I’ve said before, it’s a bit like a beautiful woman with her hair in curlers, and always preparing herself for her many admirers.
Part of a new pillar for restoration on the Acropolis, taste for Travel
The site appears to be full of machinery and newly carved slabs of marble. The Parthenon has been pillaged and damaged over many centuries, and her facelift is a painstaking process. Views of Athens from the top are spectacular. To the north is the cone-shaped mountain of Lycabettos.
Lycabettos, Athens, Taste for Travel
Look over another side and there’s Hadrian’s Arch, and the remains of the temple of Olympian¬† Zeus, as clear as a bell today.
Ancient gate of Athens, Hadrian's Arch
A large Greek flag flaps madly in the wind, almost drowning out the voices.
Greek flag on the Acropolis, Taste for Travel
On all sides, Athens stretches out in all its unplanned, chaotic beauty. The light slides and shifts from flashes of sunlight to myriad purples, greys and soft blues, hiding and then revealing the cubist details of the urban landscape.
View of Athens from the Acropolis
I stay for as long as I can, but eventually I’m chilled to the bone and reluctantly make my way down to the streets below, lined with neoclassical buildings. Most are impeccably maintained, but there’s one rotting away behind a tall fence and barbed wire – the decaying beauty still visible.
Delapidated neoclassical building near the Acropolis
Not a tourist in sight in this quarter. The Ilias Lalaounis Jewellery Museum on Kalisperri Street is closed. Tavernas and coffee shops are empty. It’s the drowsy early evening hour before Athenians dress up to go out. Just a gypsy making her way to the street leading to the Acropolis where her children are playing accordians for the loose change from tourists.
Gypsy on a narrow street, Athens, Taste for Travel
I wrap my cold hands around a hot coffee and buy some nuts on the way back to the Metro, humming to the sounds of jaunty accordian songs.

Thank you, Acropolis. I’ll be back again. Soon.
Nuts stall, Acropolis, Taste for Travel

3 thoughts on “Amazing grace of the Acropolis

  1. Hi Heather,
    How fortunate you are to have visited the amazing Acropolis many times. You capture the feelings, sounds, and visions so well — even down to the flapping of the flag. I can really hear it!
    The rows of nuts look downright heavenly. I want some!
    Travel well, my friend,
    Josie

    Like

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